Family Health Centers Offers Vital Services

The T&D Region has reason to be proud of Orangeburg-based Family Health Centers Inc. As one of the state's largest community health centers nears its 50th anniversary in 2020, FHC is providing crucial primary care and many other services to thousands of people.

Family Health Centers Inc. began as the Orangeburg County Consumer Health Council in September 1969 and was chartered in 1970.

As a federally qualified health center that is nonprofit, community-owned and federally funded, FHC today has a mission to enhance and expand community-responsive quality health care for the medically underserved and uninsured in Orangeburg, Bamberg, Calhoun and Dorchester counties. It fulfills that need with its main Orangeburg site and satellite locations in Denmark, Holly Hill, Neeses, St. George, St. Matthews and Vance.

Improving access and eliminating health disparities are among its goals as it provides everything from dental, pediatrics, pharmaceutical and extended-hour walk-in service to OB/GYN, podiatry, family medicine and behavioral health services. The FHC has 166 employees and a total annual economic impact of $21,985,537.

During this National Health Center Week, FHS has been holding activities to serve the community and foster awareness. Toward improving services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded FHS during the special week more than $100,000 to enhance health record reporting, make clinical improvements and advance health information technology.

FHC is among 22 health centers in South Carolina receiving federal funding via Quality Improvement grants totaling $1,823,066. The grants come through the Health Resources and Services Administration and are to be used to improve quality, efficiency and the effectiveness of health care delivery.

Of note, more than half of the FHS funding is for achieving recognition via the HRSA's Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition Initiative.

PCMH supports health centers working toward better care and lower costs for patients. Recognition involves assessing a health center's approach to patient-centered care. Health centers can achieve PCMH recognition by meeting national standards for primary care that emphasize care coordination and ongoing quality improvement.

Recognition is not unusual for FHC, as the center was accredited by the Joint Commission in 1999, verifying it is in compliance with nationally recognized standards. It was the first primary care medical home in the state to receive such accreditation.

The role of FHC and other centers is vital. Amid many disagreements in Washington, on that there should be no discord.

HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan: "Community health centers provide coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered care to millions of Americans. They have a track record of delivering quality care at significantly lower cost, and are vital partners in our movement toward a health system that delivers quality, affordable, value-based health care for all Americans."

HRSA Administrator George Sigounas: "Quality, value-based care is a priority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA-funded health centers serve as leaders in quality health care in the U.S. Nearly all HRSA-funded health centers demonstrated improvement in one or more clinical quality measures from the year prior, and these funds will support health centers' work to improve the quality of care they deliver every day in their communities around the country."

Toward informing Americans about health centers, HRSA released new data compiled through its Uniform Data System reporting, providing an update on health centers' provision of primary health care services. In 2017, more than 27 million people (approximately 1 in 12 U.S. residents) relied on a HRSA-supported health center for affordable, accessible primary health care including:

One in nine children 17 years or younger.
One in five rural residents.
One in three people living in poverty.
More than 355,000 U.S. veterans.
FHC invites the community to learn more about its services and celebrate this Saturday in Orangeburg at its annual Community Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon. This year, the agency anticipates at least 20 vendors will participate from various organizations and businesses throughout Orangeburg and surrounding cities. There will be free food and prizes, games and activities, FREE Backpacks (filled with school supplies) but a child must be present to receive an item.